For Americans, there’s nothing that communicates luxury and culture quite like a European vacation. The history, art, and architecture are breathtaking. It seems like everyone with even the smallest bone of curiosity in their body make this trip overseas.
Unfortunately, along with the sights and sounds are several meaningless adventures that will zap your energy along with your wallet, leaving you with only a superficial experience you’ll barely remember. Here are some tips to avoid common tourist traps while traveling across Europe.
Avoid Restaurants Near Big Attractions
When in Rome, you should absolutely visit the Coliseum. The same goes for the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Big Ben in England, or the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy. If you’re looking to save money and find good quality food, however, you should absolutely avoid the restaurants near each one.
Waiters will sometimes try to convince you into their nearby establishments with promises of great food at affordable prices. What you’ll find is tourist trap entrees with prices most locals scoff at. Moreover, if the menu is translated into multiple different languages, it’s a dead giveaway that you’re in a tourist trap. If you want good food, head away from the sights.
Anyplace Listed on a Brochure
When you arrive in Europe, you will find loads of brochures that will advertise special deals at authentic restaurants and sites. Unless you planned on visiting those locations anyway, pay zero attention and move on. Remember, millions of visitors every year are reading the same brochures as you. Where do you think they’re headed?
Avoid Every Concierge Suggestion
Depending on the quality of the hotels you’re staying in, concierges can either be your best friend or a paid advertisement for some of the city’s top attractions. In some cases, they may even receive a kickback from businesses for sending unsuspecting customers their direction. Unless you are at a nice, well-known hotel, take suggestions from a concierge with a grain of salt.
Research Ahead of Time
100 years ago, you had to rely on personal experiences from your network to know where to go and where to stay. Now, with crowdsourced social media sites like Quora and Reddit, you can ask questions from both locals and frequent travelers as to the must-see places. Most times, these people gain very little (if anything) from pointing you to a specific location, so listen to their suggestions and then research them on your own to compare notes. Ask forums and search different travel sites where the best areas to stay in London, in Paris, or in Rome are. If you have a travel agent on your side, see if they have any insight into which accommodations will be most crowded which times of year, and if they have suggestions for hidden gems in each city.
Going to Europe is an adventure of a lifetime, and there are a lot of amazing buildings, art, and cities to see. While some top attractions will be unavoidably crowded, and not every tourist site is a trap, you should keep your guard up and steer clear of these common tourist mistakes.